His success led to other appearances, mainly on children's TV programmes such as Scratchy And Co, Blue Peter and See It Saw It, where he met Collins in 1999. He toured with art workshops for children, Speight of the Art, usually waiving a fee, and became president of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.
"He was very happy doing what he did, even at 42," said French, who represented him for non-television work.
"He was like a 12-year-old, always full of beans, never moody. Speighty's a bit of an innocent abroad
, always likes to please people. And he has never been particularly bothered-about money or possessions."